While these might not be the most useful ideas, this is one site that I’ve kept bookmarked for the next time I feel the need to be creative.
One thing you could do is to either take your materials to a recycling center or donate them to an individual or group that makes use of such materials for large-scale arts and crafts activities. Many places make projects out of the most unlikely products, and you would be suprised at what some people are capable of creating. Some places to consider are preschools, elementary schools, animal shelters, scout troops, community centers, or local charities. Another option would be to advertise your materials on Craig’s List in the free section or a similar site for local artists seeking materials. Yet another option would be to volunteer at the same organizations and teach others to reuse their recyclable waste. Many community colleges have community service programs that would welcome your skills and services. This is also a great way to impact many individual lives while still making an difference for the environment.
Use the containers to store leftovers (like Tupperware). Drink out of them. Here’s a very random one: if you chew tobacco they make good spitters. They also make good candle molds
If you feel you are using the containers the best you can, start considering if you can reduce purchasing items that come in them. Buy cream in glass bottles and make your own butter or yogurt. Take your container and buy in bulk whenever you can.
It’s my understanding that glass recycling is better for the environment and does more reusing than plastic, so buy glass if possible.
Old CDs can be hung from trees to deter birds from eating your harvest, or you can mount them behind each bulb of a string of Christmas lights and they will reflect and make an enhanced decoration. They also make good bike reflectors (shiny side out). Old hoses make great bucket handles (cut and slit, slide metal bucket handle inside), or spare piping for a pond. CD jewel cases make great bug displays, for the etymologist in you (especially butterflies). Depends on what you have I guess. The site link below has some great ideas.
I re-use leftover paper for packing material, scrapbooking, covering textbooks, and wrapping paper. I ripped a few pages from my old art textbook that I couldn’t resell, and used the pictures as decoration in my house. If I get gifts in pretty boxes, I use them to store little things in my office (paperclips, etc).
I’ve become a pretty big glass hoarder. For Christmas last year we made homemade cranberry cordials for our families and bottled them in pretty bottles we’d saved. I’ve also saved old glass jars and used them to make pickles. And, of course there are the vases… I used another jar trying to sprout an avocado pit. I save all kinds of little jam jars and use them for bulk spices.
One time I took an old box and made a shoe shelf. Another time I made a box out of a paper bag for bike tools.
My very first Christmas ornament as an adult was a cleaned up chain ring off a bicycle.
Necessity definitely helps creativity!
You could build yourself a whole house out of recycled materials. Earthships are structure that are built entirely or almost entirely out of recycled and reused materials and are often off the grid. Start with recycled tires, the main building block of many Earthships. Fill the tires with tightly compressed earth to form “virtually indestructable” walls (they are especially resilient in an earthquake). Then use aluminum cans and glass or plastic bottles as bricks in interior walls. Use cement as a matrix to create a recycled and uniquely beautiful wall inside your home.
I’m going to be honest: There are relatively few uses for old plastic containers. Sure, you could use them as glasses, but considering that a lot of plastic has BPA in it, would you really want to?
It’s sad that manufacturers keep producing so much darn plastic that nobody wants or needs. We produce millions of tons of plastic every year, and considering it takes bare minimum 500 years to decompose, we end up with this:
(This is just a tiny part of a mass of plastic garbage in the Pacific that’s easily twice the size of Spain. Yes, the country.)
In my opinion, once you’re all decked out in birdhouses, the best thing you can do with plastic is avoid buying it. Get cream cheese in cardboard containers instead of tubs, for example, or buy soda in cans. And when you can’t avoid buying plastic, please make sure you recycle it.
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